If you didn’t attend Purdue University and take a course taught by Robert “Bob” Taylor, chances are you know someone who did. And if you don’t, odds are very good that someone in your community did — probably multiple people. Jay Akridge, former dean of the College of Agriculture and now Purdue provost, says Taylor literally impacted thousands of students over 50 years of teaching and mentoring.
Taylor died July 3 at age 83. He was born near Lawtons, N.Y., during the Great Depression, raised on a beef farm and graduated from Cornell University in 1956. That same year, he married his wife, Anna, who survives. They then moved to West Lafayette, Ind.
Taylor earned his master’s and doctorate degrees in agricultural economics at Purdue, and they never left. He began teaching and was responsible for teaching farm management classes for many years. Many of his students returned to the farm — many of them in Indiana.
LEGEND LIVES ON: Bob Taylor died on July 3, but his influence lives on in the lives of thousands of students.
Akridge has noted that Taylor was a legendary professor, known for interacting with and mentoring countless students. The students came first where he was concerned.
He and his wife raised four children, all of which survive. He also has numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Taylor also worked in Extension, presenting meetings particularly on topics related to improving family relationships on the farm. He was sought after to present topics at Farm Bureau annual meeting seminars and dozens of other events where farm families, especially those facing transition to the next generation, were in attendance. He was also a respected source in many articles on interpersonal relations and farm family generational transfer in Indiana Prairie Farmer magazine.
Family and students were more important to Taylor than accolades and honors, though he received many and was deserving of even more.
Bob Taylor will be missed. However, Akridge and others insist his legacy lives on in the thousands of students who are now successful Indiana farmers and agribusiness people.